Prologue: From Wednesday, January 23 to Saturday, January 26, crucial events caught up with Donald Trump. He had been in a power struggle over his State of The Union address scheduled for January 29. Speaker Pelosi had written and asked him to postpone it for “security reasons” until after the government reopened. Democratic leaders had also said they would give him substantial dollars, $5.7 billion for “border security” not a wall.
On Wednesday, the president wrote back that he had checked with The Secret Service and they had no such “security concerns.” Hours later, she wrote that she would not pass a resolution authorizing him to come until the government reopened. Trump knew nothing about a “concurrent resolution” where the House and the Senate could vote unanimously to do just that. If he wanted to give a SOTU from The White House or in written form as she had suggested, he was free to do that. Of course, he would not have the traditional setting with dramatic entry to applause , standing ovations from Republicans and the Supreme Court in the front row. Trump pledged to do “something in the alternative, possibly a rally”.
Meanwhile the House passed a series of spending bills aimed at reopening the government. Speaker Pelosi urged the Democratic Caucus in a closed door meeting to stay united and not start to negotiate separately with the president. Federal workers at the Hart Senate Office Building protested the shutdown.
The president said to reporters at the White House on Wednesday, “Nancy Pelosi, or Nancy as I call her doesn’t want to hear the truth.” When he tried to undercut her during their December Oval Office meeting, she replied, “Don’t characterize the strength I bring to this meeting as the leader of the House Democrats” . It went viral in seconds across the nation and the world.
Thursday, January 24: Cable news carried live interviews with the 800,000 plus federal workers furloughed without pay. This included the United States Coastguard and civilian Army, Marine and Navy veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Men and women told of not being able to meet grocery bills, mortgage and car payments. The accounts were very personal and powerful.
Congressmen and women as well as Senators were besieged by unending telephone calls and visits from their constituents blasting the president and them for keeping the government closed. Air traffic controllers were being interviewed and reported they were working sixty hour weeks and feared dangerous results from fatigue. They warned of a catastrophe if an airplane crash occurred.
Newspapers and Cable television were interviewing the families of the furloughed government workers, telling of their hardships. There were millions of people directly affected when one counts their nuclear and extended families.
National polls showed that the most of the American people blamed Trump and the Republicans for the Shutdown. In addition, the president’s job approval rating had fallen into the mid and lower 30’s, down 8 points since the Shutdown.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch Mc Connell realized Speaker Pelosi would not cave and decided to finally do something. He scheduled two votes for two plans on Thursday to end the stalemate. One was the president’s plan and the other was the Democratic version. He wanted to show the president that he didn’t have enough votes to prevail. Both bills failed to get the required sixty votes; the Democratic bill came closer.
The president told Mike Pence and Jared Kushner to give him options to reopen the government. They came back with four: A three week spending bill with a down payment for the wall and further negotiations. A “clean” short term spending bill that included no such money. A “clean” short term spending bill with a bi-partisan House- Senate conference committee to negotiate border security; or A declaration of a national emergency which would give the president authority to use money on his own for the rest of the year.
Friday, January 25: On Friday morning, Trump seemed set to make an emergency declaration. But when he told McConnell and Kushner , they both argued against doing it. Trump finally backed away and agreed to the short term reopening without wall money. He told aides it would result in a bad news cycle for several days, but it was the right thing to do and eventually would bring him a long-term victory. He scheduled an announcement in the afternoon and appeared in the Rose Garden with White House aides lined on the sides and reporters ready and eager to hear his announcement. When he began, it sounded as if he was declaring victory ….”I am proud to announce today that we have reached a deal to end the shutdown.”
Trump then said he was reopening the government since so many people were suffering, the first time he referred to them over the 35 days. He had accepted the third option Pence and Kushner had offered. He gave the Democrats and Republicans three weeks to form a bi-partisan committee and come up with the money for the wall. February 15 was the deadline. Or he would declare an Emergency and shut the government again.
Ann Coulter immediately attacked Trump, writing on Twitter, “Good news for George Herbert Walker Bush. As of today, he is no longer the biggest wimp to serve as President of the United States.” Conservative papers ran banner headlines: The Daily Caller: “Trump Caves” and The Washington Examiner, “Trump Blinks”.
Saturday, January 26: New York Times: Trump Accepts Deal With No Wall Money”. Two lead columns: “Government Will Reopen as Two Sides Talk.” And “A Stinging Defeat for the President”, analysis by Peter Baker, Chief White House Reporter. The sub heading: “Pelosi, Powerful Woman Who Answers to Herself , Has Trump Flummoxed.”
………………………………………………..Joyce S. Anderson